Stalker 2: A Light In The Wasteland

By Alec Meer on December 12th, 2011 at 4:51 pm.

The sudden apparent closure of GSC GameWorld and death of Stalker 2 is, for me, the saddest gaming news of this year, and a whole lot of other years to boot. Jim eloquently summed up why over the weekend. The waters of explanation remain deeply muddied however, so all we can do is hope that some glimmer of life emerges from the ruins. We got a small hint of that earlier, with the GSC Twitter account suddenly offering “We will do our best to continue. However, at this moment, nothing is certain.”

That’s all they’ve said so far, I’m afraid. Whether that’s an official line or just a hopeful employee who’s found the GSC Twitter password, we don’t know. Whether it means the company will pull itself up by its bootstraps or attempt to sell off its properties and resources either for funding or so someone else can make the game, we don’t know. We don’t know anything. But any hope is hope worth having right now.

Best of luck, brave developers: you’ll find a way.

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54 Comments »

  1. StingingVelvet says:

    They might be referring vaguely to someone else coming in and buying everything up to continue development? That’s how I read “try to continue” anyway, considering how these things have gone in the past.

    It’s not a super professional statement, in any case.

    • hatseflats says:

      Or gamers could unite and pay for continued development, find some other investors… It might be possible. Hell, I’d pay quite some money just to keep this studio afloat!

    • Jerakal says:

      If they started a kickstarter or something similar, I would chip in to see the sequel get developed, and I know I’m not the only one.

    • buzzmong says:

      @hatseflats and Jerakal

      Sorry, noble thoughts and all, but a kickstarter couldn’t raise the few million required to fund what’s pretty much an AA shooter to release.
      Obviously, that’s only guessing at the work done, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near completion otherwise we’d have seen more than just some leaked artwork thus far.

      The only way we’ll see Stalker 2 is if it gets picked up by another studio or publisher.

    • hatseflats says:

      Onviously, a kickstarter would not be enough. We would need a very pro-active group of preferably rich gamers with the right connections. I don’t know any though. Except for Notch, perhaps.

    • roryok says:

      There are only so many Notches in the world, and STALKER doesnt really seem like his kind of game anyway

      • Jimmie says:

        This makes me sad. We need a kickstarter. Sure, might need a few million bucks to get the ball rolling, but all it needs is a few hundred thousand stalker fans to chip in 10 dollars each and that’s a good chunk of it.

  2. Rao Dao Zao says:

    “I woke up and it was all a massive publicity stunt”?

  3. sonofsanta says:

    oh please god please god please god please

  4. foda500orama says:

    I wish more devs would do something like Slightly Mad, I’d love to help these guys develop STALKER 2.

  5. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    Ex-developers (not Sergey) are looking for investor at this moment, so they could continue development.

    I’m not certail how they are going to pull this off, since all rights to STALKER brand belong to Sergey Grigorovich.

    Stalker-Risen anyone?

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Is “Stalker” really enough of a Brand to worry about that? Really, what we want is the gameplay and a similar desolate setting, not the name. The name was generic, anyway. People were already complaining that the sequel might have been putting the name on something that had inferior console audience gameplay.

    • Quaib says:

      I know what I want is more of Shadow of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat. The Stalker name/story is very nice too, it’d be better if they can keep it. Imagine a Stalker game without, “Get out of here Stalker!”

    • foda500orama says:

      “Stalker-Risen anyone?”

      I’d be down with that.

    • Sergey Galyonkin says:

      Well, rights to already developed and ufinished STALKER 2 are too belong to Grigorovich, so it would be hard to rebrand it and finish under a new name. Although Grigirovich might be fine with that if he gets his money, right?

    • Paul says:

      The guys should contact slightly mad studios and try out crowdsourcing. I would easily pitch in with 30 euros or so, right now. And I expect I am not alone.

    • Necroscope says:

      Ask the Stalker community to donate what they can to help with supporting game through development. I’d pay good £ to have this game developed long before any official release.

    • Voon says:

      “Stalker-Risen anyone?”

      WANT

    • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Southern Comfort says:

      We’ve made progress since the “OMG GSC was closed down WTF OMG” times. At last now we know that GSC and Stalker 2 are still alive, even if struggling. And even if one had to conduct a private investigation to find out this much…
      I too think that the community should be mobilized. It would need the big guys at GSC calling the cards now, but with their legendary inability to reach out to the non-Russian fan base… I’m sceptical and feel like a sailor on the Carpathia watching the Titanic go down.

    • dstz says:

      @Abundant_Suede: the game being called Stalker is not haphazard or generic. It actually derives from the eponymous movie which itself was loosely based on the famous ‘Roadside Picnic’ Sci-Fi novel.

      The Wish Granter of SoC is directly inspired by the movie; and carries with it a profoundness that (allied with the hard, old school, PC shooter gameplay) made the game what it is.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @dstz

      If you’ll read my statement again, you’ll see I called the “name” (Stalker) generic, not the game (of which I am a fan).

      My point being, the brand of the game has little to do with the game’s appeal to me. I was a fan of the open ended maps and gameplay, shooting mechanics, and the desolate, immersive feel of the setting. All of these things would work just as well for me re-branded as something else. It’s not like Warhammer 40k, where it’s not really 40k anymore without the distinctive, iconic aspects of the property.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Or perhaps they seek funding for an entirely different IP.. who knows. One twitter without any more info does not go very far. Enough to get a post on RPS… evidently, but more then that we might actually need to get more then 140 characters.

    • dstz says:

      @Abundant_Suede: Ok i see your point, that it is generic to most people.

      I would point that to some people, it is no less generic that a game that would be called ’2001′, ‘THX 1138′, ‘Mad Max’ or ‘Star Wars’, to name other great scifi movies from the 70s. Stalker being the less known, but not the least in cinematographic value.

      For my part, a game loosely related to Stalker (without the inner strength provided from the source material) that would be the same on console and PC (which kills any chance of challenging gameplay on PC,) I’m out.

      Best luck to them anyway, a job is a job.

    • digital-leaf says:

      @ Abundant – you realize that the name Stalker has significance? It is not just a generic name. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is referencing Andrey Tarkovskiy’s 1979 film: Stalker.
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/
      http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1043378-stalker/ 100% on RT

      “Near a gray and unnamed city is the Zone, an alien place guarded by barbed wire and soldiers. Over his wife’s numerous objections, a man rises in the dead of night: he’s a stalker, one of a handful who have the mental gifts (and who risk imprisonment) to lead people into the Zone to the Room, a place where one’s secret hopes come true. That night, he takes two people into the Zone: a popular writer who is burned out, cynical, and questioning his genius; and a quiet scientist more concerned about his knapsack than the journey. In the deserted Zone, the approach to the Room must be indirect. As they draw near, the rules seem to change and the stalker faces a crisis. ”

      Andrey Tarkovskiy also did Solaris which was remade a few years back by Steven Soderbergh. Stalker may be a lesser known but critically acclaimed Russian sci-fi film to an ignorant mainstream shooter audience, but that doesn’t mean the name and the movie it came from don’t have cultural significance to the developers, a european audience more familiar with it, and to some of us.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      The movie title is generic too.

      ( I love Solyaris! )

    • Hidden_7 says:

      What’s a non-generic name? It has meaning within the work, and people who are aware of it know what you’re talking about. Does a name need to be composed of invented words or specific character names to be non-generic? Do you need to pile on subtitles until literally nothing else could have that name?

      I’d argue that it’s the work that gives the specificity to the name. The name then means something, and it would be a shame to lose it. Thief may be a pretty generic title, but nevertheless the games imbue it with a specificity, and I think a not-Thief game would lose something for not being able to be called that.

      Especially since it is rarely just the specific name that is lost when you lose the property rights. If GSC had to file off the serial numbers to make another Stalker, how far would that filing go? Would we lose the characters being called stalkers? Because that was a pretty specific thing to the setting, and at least as a westerner, the usage is uncommon, and gives the characters’ roles a uniqueness that wouldn’t be captured if they were called hunters, or something similar. That would be a pretty big loss, I think. But would it stop there? Would we also lose the Zone? Could it not be set around Chernobyl anymore? What about some of the mythos of the game, psuedogs and controllers and anomolies? How much could be kept and how much could be changed? Because all of it contributes to the unique setting that gave Stalker so much of its charm, and I think it’s far harder to atomize bits of it and go “okay this bit is generic, we can lose that, but this part is special we need it” than some might think. It all contributes, even seemingly innocuous changes could have big effects to the overall thing. And with the loss of the property there’s no guarantee that the changes will stay innocuous.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Yeah, I wouldnt care if it lost the whole Chernobyl thing. Been there, done that, several times now.

      The setting was great, and refreshing at the time, but I’m not hung up on it. I realize some people think it makes some sort of larger point, but that point’s been made. It drew attention to the subject matter, but I dont think the game needs to live there forever. There are other worlds to explore.

      I like the game. I liked the gameplay of Stalker. I liked the shooting, I liked the open endedness and exploration of the maps and quests. I liked the setting in so much as it was desolate and immersive, but it is not the only geographic location that can be desolate and immersive. Visually I liked the tone of the art design, but not the particulars. I found character designs fairly generic and most enemies forgettable as well, even though they were scary and effective. There was nothing “iconic” enough there I have to have in every subsequent stalker game.

      The “Brand” doesn’t make the game for me. If you slap S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2. on a console game, and set in in the same location with the same enemies, but dumb down the challenge level for console audiences, make the game stick to tighter rails and smaller zones, add floating directional markers everywhere and an automated cover mechanic, I’m not interested in that game in the slightest.

      Put the same gameplay (with fewer bugs, preferably) and immersion in an entirely different, but equally open and evocative setting, call it something equally generic like “W.a.r.r.i.o.r”, and I’m all over it.

      Sorry if that doesn’t pass the purity test for appreciating Stalker.

      [edit] I feel like it’s important to remind people here, I was never criticizing the game, or really even the name (god forbid anyone do that during this little bout of teeth gnashing). I simply was pointing out it wouldn’t be the worst thing the the world if the same basic game surfaced with a different skin. I think that Stalker was more of a success in concept and gameplay design, rather than Brand.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      The brand isn’t sufficient to make the game, but at the same time I’m always a little skeptical of claims that you can just take “the same basic game” and pop it into a different setting and fiction and still have it be “the same basic game”. The game is the game, every part of it. Obviously some things can change and have it remain a very similar experience, but I’m always leery of of demarcations where there is the “gameplay” which is core, and “everything else” (fiction, aesthetics, etc.) that is replaceable.

      That being said, I would love to see some more Stalker-like games. However, I’d also like to see more Stalker. In the same way that there have been some very fine stealth gaming experiences in the past decade, but I am nevertheless unreasonably excited for the prospect of Thief 4, because I want more Thief, not just more sneaking about.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      See, I find the thief setting far more distinctive. I find the steampunkish trappings more interesting, I find the individual tools, like water arrows, far more iconic, and far more integral to what makes the game appeal to me. Since there are a decent number of other dedicated stealth games, that setting is more important to what makes Thief, Thief.

      Stalker is modern mercs/army guys with modern guns, most of the time. That’s every other game. There are some token zombies (yawn), and some effective, but not particularly memorable mutants (with maybe one or two exceptions), in my opinion, thrown in for good measure. Radioactive wasteland is hardly novel anymore. Setting wise, it’s mostly just a FPS trope clearinghouse. The only novel thing for western audiences was the Ukraine setting. That was a nice change of pace.

      The reason you *can* take the setting out of the game, and still have it be “the game”, is because no one else is making games like this. It’s the gameplay that distinguishes it, not the setting. It would be different if every other game was like Stalker, mechanically, and they needed the particular setting to distinguish themselves, like garden variety first person shooters. But honestly, if people were making more games *like* Stalker, I doubt we’d be talking *about* Stalker.

      All my opinion of course. I like the game, I just dont revere the setting as much as some of you. I do revere the effects of the setting, but there are plenty of other oppressively drab green, brown and grey lanscapes, and you can find mercs and army guys anywhere.

  6. Crainey says:

    There was a deep sadness in my heart when I heard the news that GSC was closing shop as the STALKER series has always been my favourite, I have many fond memories. From what I’d been hearing throughout the year I thought they were going up a gear and coming out with all sorts of cool stuff although I guess that’s not true. Very tragic, I’ve always been a fan and I know the game wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, my friends all heard me praise the game and bought it only to realise that they didn’t like it at all.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      I did exactly the same in one of the Steam sales, badgering all my mates to buy it. “It’s like Fallout 3 but better!” was a phrase I used extensively, I think. But they all hated it. No accounting for some peoples tastes

  7. Max.I.Candy says:

    this along with max payne is my most anticipated game

  8. eatfrog says:

    they should do a minecraft and charge for a beta so they can keep on with development.

  9. McCool says:

    Oh please be true. For the near-future of PC gaming, let this be true.

  10. Ricotta says:

    You guys need to stop posting stories about this, it seriously ruins the rest of my day… :(

  11. Big Murray says:

    I haven’t been this sad since Looking Glass closed.

    • ThTa says:

      The area around 2000 was just perpetual sadness, with that, Digital Anvil and Pumpkin Studios and many others straight-up closing down.

      Oh, and did you hear? MW3 raked in one billion dollars within 16 days. Isn’t the videogame industry lovely?

      Hopefully the upcoming free DLC for Bastion will cheer me up.
      The Kid just stares at his old videogame collection for a while.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Mucky Foot… *sob*

  12. Theo1130co says:

    Steam sale Stalker for the weekend PLEASE, I’ll buy another copy of whatever if it means GSC and Stalker live on.

  13. BathroomCitizen says:

    Gearbox, did you hear the shout for help?

    Wait. I’d rather NOT want this to happen.

    • Navagon says:

      DNF and now that Brothers in Arms game… yeah, Gearbox aren’t what they were.

    • lurkalisk says:

      Oh, clearly, now that they demonstrate a greater technical aptitude than ever before. Oh wait… You’re talking about the fact they don’t only make your kind of game, aren’t you?

      I think it would behoove you to learn that others have other tastes. Gearbox is as good a developer as ever, as far as I can tell. If you don’t like the idea of a weird, slapstick, deadly dozen sort of thing, then wait for their next game. The game itself will probably be great, whether or not you like the story and such (and DNF doesn’t count, they didn’t make it).

      Also, what Gearbox used to be, was a company that did nothing but ports and expansions. I’m happy with them now.

  14. Navagon says:

    Come on, guys! We have faith in you!

  15. Shooop says:

    Who could possibly be relied on to help them out though? Without turning it into Syndicate?

  16. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Southern Comfort says:

    http://gsc-fan.com/?option=com_content&view=article&id=480

    “On Friday, December 9, gaming community information shocked – the largest developer of games in the CIS, GSC G ame W orld, self-liquidating. Reliable information that, as well as denials, and not at the moment. The news immediately caused a strong reaction among fans of games from the studio, someone said it was the end of everything, someone just did not believe, but someone talked over the possibility that this news is just a PR-literate way. Many once had an idea (which obviously originated on the basis of the political situation in Russia) – all to protest the building of the office. In fact, such a procession of disaffected could bring benefits – Sergei Grigorovich can do with his company that he wants. In the end it was decided to organize a rally to support GSC, which was a peaceful gathering of concerned fans under the walls of the office, to raise the morale of the team disbanded possible, and to receive the promised data on the situation.

    I have to say, everything was organized very quickly, in just a half day. Organization engaged in by two people – Denis Polishchuk (which for some reason unable to attend the shares) and, in fact, I am. Sketched out a plan of action, we set about creating an event in VKontakte, then it was necessary to convey information about it. My first thought – “YaStalker.” But advertising there could not bring specific results, therefore, appealed to the fan site of the company – GSC-Fan.Com. From the first minute of placing information on the portal in the group fell messages and new subscribers. As was pointed out me, most of the fans were from Russia, many people simply do not physically able to support us with their presence.

    All complicated by the fact that the event was held on Monday morning – in many studies, work, service, etc. (even though the military have supported us:)).

    Many share in the perceived hostility, it was a lot of messages like “ololo, shkolota angry,” etc. In fact, the so-called shkolota was not there, came mostly students, old friends, for whom “pomitingovat” at the office was one more reason to meet. From history to go by the events of the action. Make an appointment with Yevtushenko, Ivan aka White_Nizarit to meet at the subway station platform Beresteyskaya, I hit the road, since I live close by. After meeting there, we and several friends went to the office, of course, on foot (where the same stalkers use public transport, there controllers!). On the way to discuss different topics, from a multiplayer game, “Clear Sky”, “Call of Pripyat” and Call of Duty to airsoft and STALKER RealPlayer. When they reached the intended point (bus stop right under the entrance to the office), we comfortably and continued communication. Literally we came two more fans STALKER, with an official forum of GSC, the second simply decided to join. From the very beginning of the action I was a correspondence with Oleg Yavorsky, he was interested in, how many us, and gave recommendations do not miss the bus Grigorovich, who was planning to visit soon, etc. Perhaps the most memorable moment was the following SMS: “Trust and gives hope to others that the project will live on. Internet – our weapons.”

    Then we moved up to Andrei “AnarH” Skrypnyk – the organizer of many championships in STALKER, and after a couple of minutes the soldier unknown to me, was very pleasant and intelligent man. Deciding that standing on the street and wait for someone else does not make sense (the clock is already 10:20), we went into the building – there with the April 2011 nothing has changed, still warm, cozy and smells good. They stood a little below, near the restaurant “Le Figaro”, were photographed with a sign GSC (yes, she’s still there!) And climbed to the fourth floor. In the office itself, we did not go (do not let there be a dozen people, plus there was no need as such – if something clearer, we will inform Oleg). All the time here and there flashed employees, if my memory serves me, it was mainly because of their clothes. Then came Alexander Plichko, greeted all … And he ran away. In general, we whiled away the time socializing. After a couple of minutes called Oleg, said that comment today will be nothing but happy to come say hello to all of us.

    A few minutes later, as promised, we were visited by Oleg Yavorsky and Ruslan Didenko. All at once pounced with questions – “What’s next?”

    Sadly, the answers were short and simple – yet without comment, to say all Grigorovich at the time. Of these, we were able to pull is not very much information, but watching their reaction, it was possible to understand many things. For example – all that happens is not a PR-action. The mood among the staff is really bad, so to speak. Yavorsky, I usually see in a cheerful mood. Employees doing their best to do everything that the company has not closed, such an outcome no one wants. Many were interested in support and maintenance of the company’s server – it will continue, that is, resources such as “YaStalker” or game servers for online play will run. Stalker-Shop store will work as long as end products.

    To the question “What are the reasons?” – Response from Ruslan and Oleg little different (I want to add that he spoke mostly Oleg). Ruslan said that it was known only to himself Grigorovich, Oleg same again replied – “Top Secret”. In short, the information in the course of conversation, we were really little, but also at least something. By the way, the answers Oleg AnarH oharakteriziroval as “News, Channel 5″ – this is their style: say something, and then answer in one sentence – no comments.

    In the end, everything went very well, Oleg suggested that hope for the best. At the end, we have continued to pay out as usual jokes, and went downstairs. They all had their own affairs.

    When we were in the street, we began to share experiences and discuss the situation. I was very memorable phrases soldier, whose name I unfortunately do not know.

    At this event actually ended.

    Attention! Further there are only reflections of the author of the article! They have no relation to official information from the GSC, and built only on hunches, observations and conclusions of the author. Anyone can take them into account, and can be considered complete nonsense.

    The soldier is really very well-reasoned and logical. Next, I’ll just give him and his reasoning:

    A) The rumors about the alleged pressure on the company security forces are groundless. If you think about – what structures are in Ukraine? SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) makes no sense to run into Grigorovich and the company, they are not to find fault. Have something to say about the involvement of Grigorovich to politics and the attitude towards the accused Tymoshenko and ex-presidents Yushchenko and Kuchma, which in itself is absurd. All intellectual property protected by the company’s values ​​(which I 100% sure), so this side is also not prikopat.

    We also have AIM (aka police). They are, in principle, also did the company do not. Perhaps someone involved in criminal cases, which also seems nonsense (I’m sure that none of the staff to unlawful acts is not involved) about corruption in the I can not speak.

    This is the only law enforcement agencies, which may put pressure on the GSC.

    B) The second opinion of the people – the marriage of money. Personally, I can not judge the financial situation of the company, but any reasonable person would understand that the likelihood of financial problems is extremely low. GSC has a fixed income from the sale of related products. This is unlikely. Many now try to say about the post by Dmitry Yasneva in FaceBook on investors, but about that later.

    B) on this version, I think most of all, turning over in my mind I knew all employees – conflict in the team. Indeed, if we think – to close the company because of a trifle silly, but if, for example, differences occurred in the top of the company (say, Grigorovich’s not like any of the wards), it would produce a turbulent discontent of the Trust and defending their point of view. The conflict could be a long time, but not so strong. As they say, December 9, was the presentation of STALKER 2 within the company. Maybe that’s when the conflict reached a boiling point, and someone could not stand it, that might well not like Grigorovich and the other part of the team. Because of this, Sergei could terminate funding for the project STALKER 2, thus “closing up shop.” What prevents him based on GSC create a new company with new people and take up the same “Cossacks”? That’s right – nothing. Hence the problem comes up with investors.

    It is a pity that I can not give you all the arguments of the military – just not all fit in my head.

    I repeat: all of the above – just my guess, and thoughts. They can be partly confirmed by an official statement from the GSC, and may not be true, but do not share them I could not. Talk about moving companies are not unfounded. According to developers, they passed the E-Sports team Na’Vi only part of an unoccupied room. “

  17. Brise Bonbons says:

    I would happily buy into a Minecraft style business model to support further development, but it seems like there’s more to the situation than just funding issues. We shall see what happens.

    Hell, I’d be happy to see the team reform and make a game in a different setting, as long as it’s a spiritual successor to the Stalker games. We’ve got plenty of game to play around in if we want to spend time in the Zone – I’d love to see the team’s take on a similar sandbox FPS set in a different time period or genre…

  18. hosndosn says:

    The Twitter statement sounds a bit like it’s about continuing support for Stalker 1 rather than continuing developing of Stalker 2.

  19. Inglourious Badger says:

    Either they find a way to keep working on it, or the ‘Complete’ mod guy is going to have a hell of a job on his hands with STALKER 2

  20. beema says:

    Their PR with this has been just terrible. Random tweets, dealing in vagaries. I think the best case scenario is this point is that they release whatever they have of STALKER 2 to the modding community to finish up. They have said they are keeping the GSC forums going, where a big part of the STALKER modding community lives.

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